Advanced Preferences & Settings in Arduino IDE 2

The Arduino IDE 2 has been out for a while, and I’ve gotten used to it. Surprise, it’s another piece of software based on Electron. If you don’t know what that is, it probably doesn’t matter. Just keep going…

The important thing is, if you’ve looked at the preferences for the IDE, you’ll see… not a lot. There are a few things you can change, but wait, there’s more! It’s just hidden.

On macOS hit Command-Shift-P (on Windows it’s probably Window Key-Shift-P, and Linux same, but whatever you folks call the GUI key there.)

Anyway, after hitting those three keys you should see a scrollable and searchable list of stuff. You can scroll and click on something or type in something to filter it a bit more. If you type “User Set” you’ll see “User Settings” and you can click on it.

And Bingo! You’ve got access to the full list of stuff you can change and adjust. Neat!

You can also search for things, like “font” or whatever. I seriously think the greatest advance in software in the past lustrum has been searchable preferences. Anyway, I hope you find this useful.

Oh, and one more thing… If you don’t like any of the (limited) themes in the Arduino IDE you can add your own. See this Personal Themes thread. You can find themes in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace because VSCode also uses Electron. Two words of warning though, some of the themes in the “marketplace” are commercial, or at least “nagware” and will bug you about paying for them. (Which is fine, just making note of it.) The other thing is, I can only assume installing a VSCode theme in something besides VSCode, or just using the “Visual Studio Code Marketplace” for non-Microsoft software violates some Microsoft terms of service or license or such. Because face it, Microsoft still sucks in many ways.


Kerning in Apple Keynote

Somehow over the last year or so when I tried figuring out how to do kerning in Apple Keynote I didn’t get it. For some reason I assumed it was like other applications and I guess it’s not. Sigh. Anyway, this is here for me so I get it right when I forget, and maybe for you!

If you aren’t a type nerd, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Yup. It’s not tracking, or character spacing, which is different. But Keynote is confusing. Ugh.

My first mistake was trying to put the cursor between two letters, because that’s how other applications do it. Well, don’t do that. It doesn’t work. (Doing so affects the entire line of type!)

Don’t highlight two characters and try to adjust the kerning. It adjusts the space between the two letters and the space after the last letter. What!?

Right, so… Just select the one character you want to adjust the space after! In this case I selected the “A” in the word “Avenue”…

Now under the Format Menu, select Font, then Character Spacing and you can Tighten or Loosen. You’re better off just using Command-Option-[ and Command-Option-] though.

Hey, look at that! We’ve done it. Kerning. Adjusting the space between two characters. Amazing. I mean, you don’t get actual numerical values like other applications, but you just go with the visual spacing and that’s the best you can do.

The weird thing to me is that it’s not called kerning, and instead called “character spacing”, and the reason I think it’s weird is because Keynote was created for Steve Jobs, who was a big typography nerd. Maybe it was named as such to not be as confusing to non-typography nerds, but in doing so, it confuses typography nerds.

That’s part of a larger issue I’ve seen in computing over the last 25 years or so. The “dumbing down” or “simplifying” of things that are at all complex or even slightly obscure, so that people without the requisite knowledge in a specific area can understand things. Maybe that’s not the worst thing, but I still think it sort of penalizes the people who have advanced knowledge in a subject.

Anyway, that’s how do you kerning in Apple Keynote.


Don’t toss that old Wacom Tablet!

Back in 2010 I got a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch Tablet which connected to my computer via USB and allowed me to create digital drawings. I used it for a while, then used it sporadically, then a few years ago I found it in my office and tried to install the drivers to get it working and… Nope. Seems Wacom gave up on updating them to work with the modern operating system I use nowadays.

So I found it again last week and decided to see if there was a way to get it working, and… there is! Seems it just takes a software person to fix the drivers, and since Wacom didn’t do it, someone else did! And big thanks to that person! So what did I find?

I found wacom-driver-fix which… fixes the Wacom drivers!

Boom. Installed and I got my old tablet working, which mean it did not go in the bin. Of course, companies suck. When I looked on the Wacom site and realized it was no longer “supported” I checked pricing on new drawing tablets… Yeah, those bastards almost got me! Nope, we’re good for now.

I posted about this on Mastodon and at least one person immediately got their old tablet working as well.

To celebrate I drew this angry meatball. It’s angry at Wacom for sucking so bad.

(I also threw a few bucks to Nicholas Sherlock for providing the fix!)


The Blower that Blows Air

I picked up this Air Duster (as it says on the tin, or as Amazon calls it “Compressed Air Duster, New Generation Canned Air, 33000 RPM Electric Air Can for Computer Keyboard Electronics Cleaning, 6000mAh Rechargeable Battery, Reusable Dust Destroyer”).

Right, “Reusable Dust Destroyer” is good… Anyway, I got this tip from an exhibit shop pal of mine. He said they stopped buying cans of compressed air and just got one of these instead.

Interestingly enough, I too was using cans of compressed air in my home shop, and I really don’t like buying them just to use them up and throw them away, so this thing is a good replacement. (I do not have a need in my shop for a large compressor, so a small handheld device is much preferred.)

This thing works well for my needs. I have just a few minor gripes. The first is that, at least compared to a can of compressed air, it takes a second or two to deliver a full power blast of air. The blower motor takes a bit of time to spin up to full speed. This is pretty minor, and I can live with it, but if you need immediate satisfaction of blowing air when you pull the trigger, you may be disappointed. If you can wait a few seconds, you’re all good.

It comes with two attachments, a normal nozzle and one with brush bristles. I really only use the normal one, but I guess if I want to clean out a mechanical keyboard, the bristle version could come in handy. It may also work well for cleaning dust off flat surfaces with aid of the bristles.

There is a place to store the one you are not using, but… then you can’t use the device, as it blocks the trigger!

I think the way it’s meant to be used is that you can remove and store the nozzle when you are not using it, but you can’t really keep the other one there since it acts as a trigger guard. This is probably a good solution for portability and travel.

One more way it is different from compressed air cans is that it does not get cold. If you’ve ever purposefully used a can of air to freeze something, this will not do that. If cans of air getting cold always annoyed you, this does not have that problem.

The nozzle is quite large compared to the tiny diameter “straw” that a can of compressed air has, so if you’re going into a tight space, that might make a difference. (I may experiment with 3D printing more nozzles, which should not be difficult.)

Of course you also have to charge up this one before you use it. Honestly I’m not running it that long when I use it, so I’ve probably only charged it twice since I got it four months ago. It comes with a short Micro USB cable which I probably binned because I have dozens of them around already for charging things.

So yeah, the “Reusable Dust Destroyer” has been a nice tool for the shop, and I’m pleased to not be purchasing cans of compressed air once or twice a year anymore.


The Ultimate CR2032 Battery Holder!

Apologies for the (mostly) joke title. I’m sure this is not the “Ultimate” CR2032 Battery Holder (as there are many) but I do think it’s a good one. Read on for my defense of this statement…

I came into the office one day and Josh said “Hey, I found this CR2032 and printed it, what do you think?” Which was… interesting, because I had been working on a design for a CR2032 battery holder. I didn’t finish it, for whatever reason (I probably started designing something else.) Anyway, I looked at the print and thought… I can do better!

Above is the one Josh printed (in front) and the one I designed (in the back). The one he printed had the batteries a bit too close together, so you couldn’t grab one to get it out using your fingers. For my version, I spaced the batteries a bit so you could grab one. (Note the batteries sort of “snap” in place, they aren’t just held in by gravity.)

My design was still not great… but after about a dozen revisions I had something good.

The design is parametric, and with the OpenSCAD file you can choose how many batteries you want to hold, and (slightly) adjust the space between them.

But the real beauty of this design is that you don’t have to space the batteries enough to grab one with your fingers… With this version you pop them out from the bottom! The batteries snap into place to hold securely, and you press them to get them out. (Check out the video below.)

There’s one more bonus feature… If you print two the same size you can use one as a cover.

Add a rubber band (or a piece of tape) and you’ve got a secure battery holder you could toss into a bag with little worry of any batteries shorting out. Neat!

But wait! There’s more to this story… At some point I asked Josh about the file he found, and he pointed me to the Thingiverse page, at which point I said, “Oh, I know the guy who designed this.” and he said “Of course you do.” to which I replied “Yeah, I hired him years ago for some exhibit work, and I’ve worked with his wife to produce Maker Faire Orlando.” and yeah, sometimes the Maker World seems a little small. But wait… also, I grabbed the files Adam posted and realized he did post a parametric OpenSCAD file! It still didn’t have the pop-out feature I added, but it did allow for changing the spacing of the batteries. (Josh just printed the STL example file that was there.)

So to wrap up, you can see the guide on these at, grab the files from Printables or from GitHub, and do whatever you want with them! We now use these at all the events we do when we have supplies out on the table, and they’ve been a huge improvement to just spill out batteries on the table or keeping them in the (difficult to open) packaging.